"What's one thing you wish you knew before starting university?" – Students respond

For the students, by the students.
For the students, by the students.

When it comes to something as stressful as university and campus life, you're probably going to need all the help you can get.

Yes, there are some things you're going to have learn by experiencing it firsthand, but it wouldn't hurt to hear what some people who have been through it before have to say. A bit of an inside scoop, if you will.

What are some of the things you wish you knew before starting university? Send us your comments and we could publish them. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

I took to Instagram to pose the question:

"What's one thing you wish you knew before starting uni?"

Users responded: 


Consistency can really take you a long way and skipping lectures is dumb because it's double work (unless they're psychology lectures). So, in essence, uni doesn't have to be draining if you work smart and not hard. Also, I wish that I read Cal Newport's How To Be a Straight A Student before I started, or in first year, at least.


To bring lunch and not buy food at the cafeteria. 


Plan everything way in advance and stop doing everything last minute! It'll catch up with you. 

Also see: University freshers' guide to navigating campus


I honestly expected university to be more like the movies with parties every night. And I never expected the majority of the faculties to be so close knit. I thought that it would be a free for all with no one helping each other.


How to play dominoes. 


That even though you earn a degree, it doesn't guarantee you the job you want.


Surround yourself with those who have a similar (hopefully strong) work ethic to yours.


One thing I didn't expect from university is that you need people. You need to be able to work with people. Networking is so important. As editor-in-chief of UCT's Sax Appeal magazine, I've realised that team effort is important. Without team effort, the magazine would not be able to go on sale on 7 February (be sure to get a copy!).

The experience required a lot patience but I would not have been able to do it without each and every person being there and doing their part whether big or small.  


That it can suck you in for 6 years.


That finding a job after studying is as difficult as before starting uni. I wish I knew exactly what it entailed.


That it's okay to ask for help and not having to figure it all out on your own.


If you don't work hard, you will fail. Period.


How to Harvard reference. 

Also see: Preparing your assignments? University referencing guide for beginners


How important the selection of my modules at uni was to one day apply for a job. Also if my degree would upskill me in terms of the theory and practical knowledge that would be sought after by private companies or government institutions. 


How much sleep I was going to miss out on. 


Buy a printer. Buy. A. Damn. Printer.


Buying every prescribed textbook is a waste of money.

I wish I knew that attending any open day is so important when wanting to know what your degree entails. Everyone paints this rosy picture of how uni is, but they aren't honest enough to tell you it's tough, mentally and physically draining, but also not impossible.

Also, I wish I knew that using the line "I don't have time" as an excuse is a LIE (especially in first year). It's all about time management and prioritising when the need arises. 


That uni is useless and you teach yourself everything.


You're never going to keep up. Just do what you can. It's about doing what's possible. 


The amount of stress we have to endure!!!


It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. This is that one journey where shortcuts, unfortunately, don't get you there quicker.

Also see: Tips for surviving on a student budget


Language barrier. Some lecturers' accents can make things difficult.


That my degree was wrong for me lmaooooo.


That nobody really cares. You are on your own.


That I would actually still be able to live a decent life and find a path in life even if I took a gap year and went to a college and not a uni. Most adults around me made me feel so scared to take a gap year. Although I learnt a lot at uni and I wouldn't take it back, I still feel like I could've probably gotten where I wanted to be now without a uni degree and in less time. 


I wish that I was certain about my course, and not just doing something because of the "job title".

Wish that I also knew myself better. In terms of weaknesses and strengths so that I chose an occupation that suited my personality best.


How much money to save lol.


You don't need to know exactly what you are doing with your life. Uni is just the beginning. 

Chat back:

What are some of the things you wish you knew before starting university? Send us your comments and we could publish them. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

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Read more: 

University expectations vs. reality

Understanding university grading, credits, Dean's list and more

South Africa's universities and colleges: contact details

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